For many people in Latvia, Christmas still primarily is a celebration of Winter Solstice. These ancient traditions involve family and neighbors, gatherings, “helping the light to return” with bonfires, masking rituals and of course a lot of singing and dancing.
One of the most important traditional rituals is pulling the piece of log around the property or the house accompanied by ritual songs and chants, thus collecting the negative energy and burning it later on in the ritual fire. Also it is suggested to eat grey peas - a traditional Latvian staple food. Peas symbolize tears and eating them saves you crying in the next year. It is a very joyous celebration, hence the name “Ziemassvētki” - “ Winter celebration”, which marks the beginning of new cycle of light.
And by the way, did you know, that the first decorated Christmas tree was in Riga, Latvia in 1510?